It would appear Dean Saunders didn't get his central defensive loan target after all, and has fallen back on the celebrity signing option in Marvin Andrews instead. I hope he's able to buck the recent trend of such deals.
The reason for my edginess is simple. Name me a player who has arrived with a big name on a short-term contract who has been a successful signing for us. Or even one who was around at the start of the following season will do. Yup, I'm struggling too.
Actually, there is one who might tick the boxes: Frank Sinclair. But, as I outlined yesterday, this is a man of rare professionalism, able to suck up the fact that he's in the Conference and apply himself to his job, day-in, day-out. Hopefully Andrews is the same, but it worries me when I look at the scales to weigh this issue up. On one side is Sinclair; on the other are Lamine Sakho, Patrick Suffo, Matt Jansen, John Curtis, Christian Gyan and Andrew Crofts. And that's just off the top of my head.
I totally understand the temptation to make such signings. These players are all, on paper, better than the level of football we're playing at. Okay, they might be getting on and lacking fitness, but if you can nurse them back to health you've got a bargain. I like this logic in many ways, but it's an approach which sadly has the odds stacked against it; if you go back further than those names I just listed you can also throw in the second comings of Juan Ugarte and Chris Armstrong. Wishful thinking is a natural state of mind to slip into, but the hard-nosed approach is to get hungry young lads who have the appetite to get themselves out of the Conference.
Of course, Andrews could prove to be a Sinclair-like exception that proves the rule. I do hope so; his rugged style should certainly be suited to repelling some of the Conference's more direct sides. It looks like Saunders' stated aim of cherry-picking the best players from other sides in our division, admirably exemplified by the signings of Mangan and Knight-Percival, was a brief aberration though.
Andrews is certainly an individual-read this review of his autobiography for a taster-and he might have the character to rise to this rather diminished challenge. Indeed, he has been playing in Scottish football, so small crowds and rudimentary facilities shouldn't be a shock to him, and Trinidadians like Dennis Lawrence, Carlos Edwards and Silvio Spann have certainly shown commitment when they've come to The Racecourse. I just hope Andrews can match that, and beat the odds.